Morgan: I — uuhhh – I’m over-thinking this, aren’t I?
Chuck: Yeah. Yeah, you are. Go with your heart, buddy. Our brains only screw things up.
There’s less than two weeks left before the season premier of Chuck and I can’t deny that I’m excited about it. Maybe a little too much.
Well, don’t be too surprised by that. Here’s the deal: The summer Chuck marathon is coming to a glorious conclusion! It was timed to the release of the S3 DVDs and the start of the season, which means some days it took watching two or even three episodes to keep on schedule. At the same time I’ve been taking notes, recording the names of guest stars and the correct spelling of their character’s names, recording B and C plots, the music and scenes to which the music attaches, and dialog. Lots and lots of dialog.
It takes quite a bit more than 43 min 22 sec. to go through an episode that way, and I don’t recommend it, really, ’cause It’s enough to drive a spouse carraa-zy (No, no, dear. I am NOT having an on-line affair with someone named Beckman…). Worse, when I get to take a breather (like I can this week) I experience Chuck withdrawal symptoms. Very strange for a man my age.
I know. Take three songs from each season and see a doctor in the morning. Will do!
Needless to say, things are a bit like the original beginning sequence of the Chuck vs. the Podcast. “It’s downloaded into my brain, and I am in a constant state of fear and anxiety.”
Not really. But let me make an admission. I do wonder if I’ve set my expectations too high for S4, or too low for that matter. It sounds self-contradictory, I know. Listening to the play-lists on my iPOD, I ask myself “(Self?) Am I too giddy, or too jaded about the upcoming season?” I wonder what’s going to happen and if I’m going to be thrilled or disappointed. Why shouldn’t I be thrilled? The answer is, I have no idea what’s going to make me happy. I really don’t have a preference for any given direction that the show might take; they all sound great! There’s an entire compass full of directions in the offering.
We had a fantastic cliff-hanger/lead-in to S4. There’s the new Orion-cave and Mama B., Chuck and Sarah are together and Casey gets to make sure Morgan keeps his hands off of Alex (Good luck with that one, Casey). The story choices seem endless and pregnant with possibilities. And speaking of pregnancies…
Yes, yes, I want to see all of that. I want to see Morgan and Alex fighting off Casey, I want to see Chuck and Sarah fighting off bad guys, I want to see Casey fighting off everybody! I want to see Devon and Ellie planning for the future starting NOW! and more than anything, I want to see Chuck and Sarah starting that future they envisioned together.
So what’s to worry? I worry I’m writing their story again!
I really do over-think this stuff just like Morgan. It’s easy enough. I do have certain expectations, and read enough spoilage to have a sense that my preconceived notions are probably wrong. That’s as it should be. Surprises are a good thing; this is why I try to avoid spoilers, even if I fail in the attempt.
“So now, they weren’t just fans; they were participants.”
Zac Levi said that in a recent interview. He was talking about more than just the Subway campaign, I think. He was talking about fan interactions in general. It’s a unique experience, feeling like the star of a show has actually heard our words, isn’t it? The writers actually put them, our words, in the actor’s mouths on occasion. TPTB certainly reacted to our reactions to certain events that shall remain *cough*NAMEless*cough*. It almost seems that Zac never misses an opportunity to thank the fans for their involvement, and lately, neither has Josh Gomez and Adam Baldwin. Even the comparatively taciturn Yvonne Strahovski has been doing that. These are professional actors, as practiced in the art of deception as CIA agents (!!!), but I believe them. It’s possible to think otherwise, but I come away thinking the fans have had a say in the show.
Not every show has gone the way fans would have it. Leonard and Penny still aren’t together after their break-up (oops!), Booth and Brennen have been separated for a year (in the Bones story-line) and Tony and Ziva are still acting brother-and-sisterly – Gibb’s rule #12 is in full force. At least House and Cuddy have gotten together (after 6 full seasons, with fans tapping their foot in frustration all the while).
Alan Sepinwall wrote yesterday about his reaction to the new show Nikita, and it struck a chord. Just look at what he said at the end:
I’m just feeling burnt-out on this kind of show – not just “Nikita” remakes themselves, but dark and brooding spy series with complex mythologies and constant double-crosses – and it would take an extraordinary level of execution to make me care again, in the same way that Dan was sucked in by “The Shield” once he finally agreed to watch it. (That, or a twist on the familiar, like the comedy of “Chuck.”) And “Nikita” is good, but it’s not transcendent – a B when I would need an A or A+ to care again.
Transcendent? That’s a pretty high bar, and I’ve come to expect that much. It’s not because of one critic’s review; I don’t think I’m going to be making time for Nikita or even J.J. Abrams’ Undercovers for exactly those reasons. It’s a little hard for me to feel like I’m ever going to be so involved. By way of comparison, the cast and crew of Chuck have succeeded in making me feel much more involved. Like Zac said, we’re participants, and the whole experience does seem, at times, transcendent.
We all, you and I, write about what we’d like to see out of enjoyment and love for the show. We just want to see Good Things ™ happening, right? We’re not “entitled”, but fans who have invested so much should not feel ignored either. That’s how many shows die, after all. They lose contact with their audience. The amazing thing is, we actually have a bit of say in what’s going on with the show, much more than I’ve ever seen before. We are participating to the extent that the give and take we’ve experienced on Twitter and ComicCon, on podcasts, meet-ups and interviews with the cast and crew starts to feel “interactive.”
It may not be “Television 2.0” yet, but the real thing, when it comes, is going to feel much like this. Now close your eyes. Imagine Sarah in a blue dress looking at you and saying “It is real.” There’s a love affair going on here, sometimes they’re clumsy and dumb about it, sometimes mistrusting and tentative and there’s been rocky moments. But it’s real and the participants are together for the long-haul. It’s time to go with your heart.